If you’re worried about Santa’s health (long-distance driving and eating approximately one million cookies aren’t usually signs of a healthy lifestyle), you might be reassured by next weekend’s Santa Hustle Half Marathon and 5K. Seeing Santa pound the pavement will allay your fears that his fitness level might keep him from hauling in that new treadmill you asked for.

Actually, there will be hundreds of Santas on foot when the Santa Hustle gets under way December 16 at Moody Gardens, with the half marathon starting at 7 a.m., followed by the 5K at 7:15 a.m. The half marathon heads to the seawall and turns west, passing the 91st Street Fishing Pier before making a U-turn for a 5-mile eastward stretch to the Pleasure Pier. From there, runners and walkers head back down the seawall to the Moody Gardens finish.

Along the way, participants will be treated to the sights and sounds of the season, with Christmas music, course volunteers dressed as elves, and candy cane and cookie stations augmenting the usual water stations.

The Santa Hustle encourages runners and walkers to dress in the provided Santa swag, which includes a beard, Santa hat and a red performance-fabric hoodie. There’s even a ”Mrs. Claus” option that adds a red tutu and candy cane socks to the look.

The 5K course sticks closer to Moody Gardens, but 5K runners and walkers are treated to the same Christmas spirit, have cookie and candy stations and receive their own special medals at the finish line.

In keeping with the season of giving, a portion of the race proceeds will benefit the Galveston County Food Bank.

Advance registration discounts are currently available at www.santahustle.com/Galveston, and race day registration will also be open at 6 a.m.

Bernice Torregrossa: bernice92@aol.com

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